Ethereum Classic lost more than 10% of its value today with price standing just above $1 as the network comes under sustained dos attack.
The attacks are similar to those experienced by Ethereum over last month. A programmer is exploiting gas mispricing for certain op codes to drain nodes of memory and other resources thus slowing them down. Who or why is a matter of speculation. For ETC, considering the dramatic price movement, it could well be financially motivated and might not even be the original attacker, but a copycat.
For the original Ethereum attacker, prime suspicion goes to Bitcoin Core developers who have previously shown willingness to play dirty by DDoSing Bitcoin XT and Bitcoin Classic nodes. Attack, for an apparently stagnant bitcoin that is still stuck on a never ending blocksize debate, is, of course, the best defense, but it may well be the case that the network is actually being thoroughly tested by legitimate projects who wish to see the developers’ reaction while under pressure.
The timing for the first attack could not be better for both ends of this speculative spectrum. On one hand, a genuine selfish attacker is placed to cause most damage while almost everyone is sleeping in Shanghai at 4 AM in the morning with four hours until Devcon2 opening and Ethereum’s big day. On the other hand, and equally, a legitimate project cannot find a better time to test the team’s reaction and see whether their project would be in good hands.
Regardless, the solution for both Ethereum networks is a hardfork. The question is when. Gavin Wood has called for a fast network upgrade as soon as possible. Vitalik Buterin publicly hinted today that a hardfork is underway. There seem to be no disagreement with the general public with almost everyone stating that a network upgrade would be perfectly fine if that is the proposed solution.
With Ethereum Classic it may be slightly more complicated. They have somehow reached a decision to remove the difficulty bomb, thus maintain proof of work for an undetermined length of time. The few developers that the community has are therefore focusing on that hardfork and, presumably, waiting for Ethereum’s hardfork code to be finished, tested, and then copy pasted.
They might, as a quick measure, copy paste the already deployed solutions in Ethereum, although it is not clear why they have not done so already, except for a seemingly lack of developers and resources with an apparent power struggle developing early on between Elaine Ou on one hand and Charles Hoskinson on the other with developers’ involvement now unclear considering a constant price decline for months.
It remains to be seen how long it will take any developer they do have to fix the problem and, more interestingly, how the community will react. Specifically, will Ethereum Classic engage in a quick hardfork or wait until the difficulty bomb and replay attack vectors are fixed? We currently do not know, but the reaction of both developers and the community to this very first test for ETC will probably show to remaining investors whether the project has any viability as a proof of work fork with slow block times and limited scalability.
Featured image from iStock. Chart from TradingView.